Today, Microsoft and O’Reilly Media announced an agreement to support and expand Microsoft Press. Under the terms of the strategic alliance, O’Reilly will be the exclusive distributor of Microsoft Press titles and co-publisher of all Microsoft Press titles, on Nov. 30, 2009. We’ll be working with Microsoft to develop new books, as well as distributing both existing and new co-published books to bookstores, and, perhaps most importantly, to the emerging digital book channels that represent the future of book publishing.
Microsoft could have chosen to partner with any of the major computer book publishers. That they chose to work with us is a testament to three advantages we bring to the business:
- O’Reilly is more than a book publisher. We are an advocate, a connector, and a community builder. We help developers and users make the most of technology, with a focus on what they need to know. Microsoft has a history of building great developer communities, but in today’s world, those communities need to be connected with other communities outside Microsoft. Especially in technology, “the world is flat.”
- O’Reilly plays a unique role in the technology ecosystem: from our earliest days, we provided the documentation for important technologies for which there was no “vendor.” The internet, the World Wide Web, Linux and other open source software, and Web 2.0 all were documented and given mainstream awareness by O’Reilly books and events. We identify and evangelize the disruptive technologies that reinvigorate the industry.
- O’Reilly has been a pioneer in the new world of ebooks. In the early 1990s, we co-developed docbook, one of the first standardized formats for ebooks, and the progenitor of future XML-based ebook formats. In 2001, in partnership with the Pearson Technology Group, we launched Safari Books Online, the largest and most comprehensive electronic subscription library of computer books and videos. We’ve built a successful direct business with DRM-free downloads of ebook bundles that work on any device. We’re an early leader in publishing books for the iPhone and other portable reading devices, and understanding how to use ebook channels to reach new customers. And of course, our Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC) has become the place to share knowledge about the changes sweeping through publishing.
On this last point, I’m particularly excited that as part of this agreement, Microsoft has committed to make its ebooks DRM-free and device-independent. One of our goals at O’Reilly has been to make sure that ebook customers can read them on any device, and have the ability to keep using them even if they change their preferred device. Having Microsoft Press join us in this commitment is a big step forward towards an open ebook market.